Past Projects


Purpose: The Mathews and Goldstein precincts were the first active learning precincts to be developed at UNSW. The result of the Pilot Active Learning Spaces (PALS) project, the precincts combine interactive and collaborative spaces, converted from traditional CATS rooms, and extensive student-led spaces. The Mathews precinct, located on the first floor, currently houses five interactive and three collaborative learning spaces, as well as 393 square metres of internal student-led spaces with capacity for 104 seats. The Goldstein precinct, located on the ground floor, now houses four interactive and four collaborative learning spaces, plus 96 square metres of student-led space. This includes internal capacity for 52 seats and external capacity for 45. 

Impact: Active learning spaces support a range of teaching and learning approaches. The Mathews and Goldstein precincts have resulted in the more effective use of existing campus space, and a more personalised and flexible learning experience for students. These outcomes respond directly to the UNSW 2025 Strategy, and to the Scientia Education Model. An Active Learning Spaces Best Practice sharing guide, which provides teaching staff with advice for getting started, suggested activities for active learning classrooms, and advice on the audio visual capabilities embedded in these spaces, was developed as part of this project. These precincts also provide a template for the development of future active learning precincts at UNSW. 


Purpose: The PALS project produced a series of concept active learning spaces in the Mathews Building. It was designed to trial the development of new active, collaborative and blended learning space design methodologies, and to measure the impact of those learning spaces on the learning and teaching experience. Three active learning spaces were developed for the project: two with capacity for 42 students, and a third with capacity for 64 students. The spaces were designed to fit one of two prototypes: collaborative spaces incorporated configurable furniture and whiteboards to stimulate group interaction; interactive spaces incorporated a wide range of educational technologies, such as screen sharing, pod-style furniture with device ports, and high-speed wi-fi. Academics across multiple disciplines (science, medicine, arts and social sciences, engineering, and law) volunteered to teach in the pilot environments in between 2016 and 2017, and to share their experiences with the PALS project team.  

Impact: The PALS project was the starting point for a broader UNSW space development strategy that continues to deliver innovation in learning environment design. The project resulted in the development of the Mathews and Goldstein precincts, which are home to 18 active learning spaces. A further 38 spaces are proposed by the beginning of 2019, and plans for additional precincts on the Kensington campus are ongoing. The rapid expansion of the PALS prototype provides significant momentum for the ongoing transformation of UNSW learning spaces to meet current and future needs. An Active Learning Spaces best practice guide was also developed to support effective teaching practice in these spaces.


Purpose: The Learning Spaces Project was established to guide the design and development of student-centred, flexible and connected learning environments at UNSW. A University-wide project, it responded to a changing educational landscape in which technology and new pedagogical approaches shape the learning and teaching process. It also acknowledged the desire of staff and students to contribute to be co-designers of their learning environments. The initiative called on student and teacher involvement through initiatives such as U-Collaborate, a day-long brainstorming session to create a vision of future UNSW learning spaces; and a survey, which asked 4500 students how and where they liked to study. The Learning Spaces Project ran from January-December2015.

Impact: The project was the foundation for the Pilot Active Learning Spaces (PALS) initiative, a prototyping activity that produced the first active learning spaces on the UNSW campus. The Learning Spaces project also produced a strategy and design principles to guide the design and development of learning environments at UNSW. These documents created a standardised and consistent approach to the design and provision of learning environments and their supporting services.